Greater number of large sharks spotted near Galveston, Bolivar Peninsula

Cell phone video shows a Pasadena man catching a 6-foot shark on Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula over the weekend.

There has been an increase in large shark sightings in the past month or so near Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula, according to Jonathan Davis, a shark biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Part of the reason people are seeing more sharks and catching bigger ones is that water temperatures are higher and there is a greater number of schooling fish close to the coast around this time of year, describes Davis.

Chris Mott, captured on video reeling in a bull shark on Saturday, is a recreational shark fisher. He says he catches sharks often, but this is the largest shark he’s ever caught from the beach.

“That’s the biggest one I’ve reeled in," says Mott. "They’re really hard to get up on the beach. Their belly touches the sand and they go crazy. They’re very powerful fish.” His friend Chris Hollon and Hollon's son were fishing for sharks when FOX 26 News arrived to Crystal Beach on Monday. They do it year-round as a hobby, and they say they’ve not only seen an increase in sharks in the past month or so, but also seen a greater variety of sharks.

"There’s been a lot bigger sharks, some different species, some hammerheads and tigers coming out here,” adds Hollon. He also says he caught a six-foot-long sandbar shark a couple of weeks ago on Surfside Beach, giving it a bear hug before releasing it back into the Gulf.

“If you get them underneath their pec fins, they can’t really move around,” describes Hollon.

Davis says there have indeed been more sharks of a greater size being caught or found dead along Galveston and Bolivar Peninsula. He says it may be due to a vortex, or gyre, in the Gulf that’s pushing clear blue water closer to the Texas coast.

Whatever the reason, the shark fishers are loving the opportunity to make a big catch, while being cautious about venturing far into the water for a swim. They say the bull sharks they’ve caught are aggressive.

“They’re not a shark that’s just gonna bump into you," says Mott. "Most of the time they’re gonna hit you and they’re gonna snap at you.”

The Galveston Island Beach Patrol has some advice for avoiding sharks:

  • Don’t swim near areas where water empties into the gulf. Sharks are more common in those areas.
  • Don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding.
  • When wade fishing, don't keep the bleeding fish you've caught near you in the water. That can attract sharks.
  • Don’t try to swim through a school of fish. Sharks prey on schooling fish.

Galveston Island sees one shark bite around every three years, according to the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. Around 20 million people swim there in that time frame, so shark bites are very rare.